Cubs News

Cubs sensing a different feeling as Spring Training kicks off

1 year agoAndy Martinez

MESA, Ariz. – There’s a slightly different feeling in the air at Sloan Park and the Nike Performance Center.

No, it isn’t just the cooler-than-normal temperatures in the typically warm state of Arizona.

It’s a feeling that the Cubs are on the cusp of turning a corner. Something that pitching coach Tommy Hottovy can sense.

“When you’re not in it, you know and you’re in it, you can start to feel it,” Hottovy said Tuesday. “I think the guys feel it. I think you see guys hanging around from their bullpens watching other guys, a lot of communication. It’s a fun group we’ve got.”

The camaraderie that Hottovy has seen has added to that sentiment. Players have been at the Cubs facility all offseason, working out, throwing, hitting and preparing themselves for the 2023 season.

“These guys are coming ready to work,” Hottovy said. “They know why we’re here and what we’re trying to accomplish as a team and I don’t think there’s any in between like ‘Oh, I don’t know.’ No, we’re like our expectation as a group is to win. I think you feel that in the group for sure.”

It’s a stark contrast to last year, where the lockout severed any communication between the team and players and Hottovy resorted to watching videos of pitchers on social media to see how they were doing.

This offseason, players threw bullpens at home, had video of their bullpen session and could send it to Hottovy and his staff to analyze it and make any recommendations or changes as they saw fit. That constant communication allowed the players to continue to improve as they prepared and not stagnate in their workouts.

“Last year felt a little rushed,” David Ross said on Cubs 360 Monday. “It was shorter, trying to ramp guys up and catching up on where everybody’s at because you couldn’t communicate with them. These guys have been talking to our coaching staff for months on end and having plans when we ended our season last year. So everybody’s coming in hungry and excited. We got a really good vibe in the locker room already and camp hasn’t even started.”

And it extends to the entire organization.

If the team gets video of someone throwing and the pitching side likes what they see but the weight room staff might have some concerns, they can correct that right then and there instead of having that become a bigger problem down the road.

“We took a very proactive approach in the offseason programming, whether it’s the throwing program, the weight room, the conditioning stuff, all of the corrective from the training staff,” Hottovy said. “Camp’s just starting, but I really feel like we’ve been having camp for a month cause it’s just how much information we’ve been able to gather.”

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